LAKE FOREST – For all of the references to the “double doink,” the unusual competition in rookie camp, and two-player training camp battle, it appeared the Bears’ efforts to find a kicker had worked on September 15th.
Eddy Pineiro, who was acquired from the Raiders in an offseason trade, hit a game-winning 53-yard field goal to help the Bears beat the Broncos 16-14 on a muggy day in Denver. He was mobbed by his teammates following the conversion, which came after Pineiro hit field goals of 40 and 52 yards earlier in the day.
At last, it looked as if the Bears had their kicker moving forward, shedding the overbearing shadow of Cody Parkey’s playoff miss against the Eagles in January that haunted the franchise for nine months.
Of course, it just couldn’t be that easy.
Before the start of December, some are once again beginning to question if the franchise will have to start looking for yet another kicker after Pineiro has entered a mid-season slump.
Starting with the Chargers game on October 27th, Pineiro has hit only three of his seven field goal attempts while also missing his first PAT against the Lions on November 10th. That included a pair failed of field goals attempts in the first quarter against the Rams on Sunday that kept the Bears from getting an early lead in a 17-7 loss to the Rams that drops them to 4-6 on the season.
After a solid opening drive by the offense, a rarity during the 2019 season, Pineiro missed the kick to the left from 48-yards away. Perhaps that was on Matt Nagy’s mind on the next offensive series when he decided to go for it on fourth down instead of trying a field goal when the Bears got to the Los Angeles 31-yard line following a turnover. When the Bears didn’t convert that, Nagy went back to Pineiro on the next drive, but this time he pulled the kick to the right from 47 yards, and he wouldn’t attempt a field goal the rest of the evening.
Those were Pineiro’s first tries at a field goal since that forgettable afternoon against the Chargers at Soldier Field when he went 3-for-5 and hooked a potential game-winning 41-yard field goal left of the upright as time expired in a 17-16 loss.
This last month wrecked some of the goodwill that Pineiro built up early in the season after beating out Elliott Fry for the kicking position vacated by Parkey after his release last winter. His big game against the Broncos was part of a strong start to Pineiro’s season in which he hit nine of his ten field goals and every extra point despite dealing with a leg injury suffered before the Redskins game.
Despite the recent struggles, Nagy said the Bears have no plans to change kickers midseason, which is the same course the Bears took with Parkey when he began to have issues hitting the upright in 2018. But if Eddy can’t find that early season rhythm over the final six games, it could be another offseason where the kicker position remains a discussion.